This is supposed to be a homily to high schoolers but I think it has wide application. This is like my 6th practice homily. Only 20 more to go! :)
Readings from Thursday of the 33rd week of Ordinary time.
We hear in the Gospel today that Jesus is weeping. He is weeping over Jerusalem. We can find that hard to believe. We imagine God as this stern fellow or a man demanding justice for sin. But to see him expressing emotions, and especially one of sorrow, comes to us as a shock. And why is he weeping? Just before this scene, he had entered Jerusalem to crowds of followers so happy to see him and celebrating him as the promised savior of Israel. But he knows what is to happen next. He will suffer and he will die. The party is over. He is truly weeping because he came to remind his people of who they were yet ultimately they did not accept him or his message. They had forgotten that they were God's chosen ones and God's only son could not wake them from their slumber.
And Jesus continues to weep today. The Jews are not the only ones who have forgotten who they are. So have we. We have a certain amnesia. I don't mean we've forgotten the last week of our lives or the last 15 years of your life, but I mean who we were meant to be. Our identity.
We stand out from every other living creature on the earth. We have to sew together clothing and cover ourselves. We have to fashion houses and furniture. We have to do so much differently from every other animal. We are almost like strangers on this earth. But this is a sign. It is a sign that you and I, all of us, were made by God as the high point of creation, above all other things, in his very image, for his very glory. And our identity, who we were and are still meant to be, can be discovered only in God.
With that, we look around the world today, we realize something is not working right. The poor, the hungry, the marginalized, not just materially but spiritually, they are everywhere, even in our own streets, often in our own families. If God had this great plan in mind for all of us, someone or some people really screwed up. What do we see? We live in a culture that emphasizes, promotes, even worships independence, self-sufficiency, pride, ultimately the self. We worship the self. Our entire culture, from the tv set to the computer worships before us. We work to make everything as convenient as possible. For us. We indulge in every kind of pleasure because it suits us. Our neighbor is forgotten.
We have settled for ourselves. We have settled for self-satisfaction. But we are called to self-gift. This is our identity. We are called to give ourselves away. The ultimate question man asks, who am I, is only answered in Christ. It is answered with the gift of yourself.
The life Christ led was one of gift. From his descending from heaven to live among us, to his preaching, his teaching, his suffering, death, and resurrection, all for us. He offered his complete life. And we are called to that same task. This is our identity. We are called to be gifts of ourselves. It will ultimately mean finding ways to love others through a sacrifice of our time, energy, and money. It will mean entering into people's lives and simply being present for others. And we will each discover how to do that in unique ways, whether you are called to spend more time with family, maybe lonely grandparents or friends that are alone or depressed. But the core of it is this self-gift. Our great joy here on earth is to discover how we are each called to this self-gift. Jesus calls out to each one of us today, reminding us of what we have forgotten, of our great vocation to give of ourselves. Let us not disappoint but answer his call, knowing that our response will fulfill the deep desire of our hearts to give of ourselves until the very last breathe.